RTÉ show Kin taps into the growing trend for wealth porn

The drama of Sunday night’s episode of Kin was gripping, the acting impeccable… but even so, my eye kept wandering from the coffin in the room to the living space around it. “What sort of square footage do you suppose they have there?” I asked my husband. “Not sure. There’s not much outside space though, is there?” “And it would be murder to heat,” I added sagely.

he fancy pads of Dublin’s fictional gangland kingpins are just the latest addition to the portfolio of ‘wealth porn’ that has us hooked.

From implausibly swanky glass boxes and the sensitively renovated, three-story period homes on Home of the Year to the million-dollar mansions of Selling Sunset, we can’t help tuning in to ogle the real estate worlds of the wealthy. And the rich folk who live there.

It doesn’t really matter if they’re real people or not since their lives are so far removed from our own. Kardashians, Real Housewives… I can’t be the only one positively salivating at the prospect of the return of the Roy family in Succession and their world of private jets, penthouses, $200m super yachts and sprawling country estates.

Rich people make for good telly, something I suspect Meghan Markle is well aware of. A tell-tale wire was spotted hanging out of Harry’s belt on their recent trip to New York, suggesting that the visit was being filmed as part of the couple’s new Netflix series.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in New York

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in New York

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in New York

People were quick to get up in arms about the fact that the Duchess wore some €78,000 worth of clobber and bling over the three-day-trip (including a collection of designer wool coats, despite the 25C heat).

But really, when we inevitably tune into the former-royals’ series, it’s this kind of out-of-touch excess we want to see. We already have access to sensible shoes and high-street brands in our own pedestrian lives, show us the money. We live in a world where, increasingly, the dollar is king. The values of corporate capitalism — buying, image, celebrity and narcissism — grow stronger while traditional values associated with institutions in decline, like the Church, fall behind.

In the past, people might have worried about the plight of their immortal souls, now we’re busy lusting after a large marble island unit and a walk-in wardrobe.

For several decades, the Higher Education Research Institution in the States has been conducting research into the different generations and their associations with wealth. Only 44.6pc of baby boomers considered the goal of ‘being very well off financially’ something that was essential or very important to them.

But when it comes to millennials, this increases to 74.4pc. In 1978, ‘being rich’ was ranked eighth in terms of the goals offered in the survey, which included options like ‘developing a meaningful philosophy of life’ and ‘keeping up with political affairs’. Since 1989, being rich has consistently been ranked first.

Researchers ascribe some of that to the explosion in TV shows that give us a glimpse of the lives of the super-rich. We watch for inspiration — around half of millennials fully expect to be millionaires at some stage in their lives — but also escapism.

Let’s face it, when you’ve just been outbid on a three-bed semi in Sutton there’s something rather nice about escaping into a world where they woo buyers with Botox parties to sell mansions in the Hollywood Hills.

But the real reason behind our wealth porn addiction lies not in salivating over the perfect homes of the rich, but in discovering the lives lived in those homes usually aren’t perfect at all.

Since it’s not something many of us can expect to experience first-hand, there’s a schadenfreude sort of contentment to be found in getting to witness that the old adage ‘money can’t buy happiness’ might be true after all.

Whether it’s the daily scrutiny that Harry and Meghan face with their clothing and real-estate choices or the painfully dysfunctional relationships showcased by the Roy family in Succession, or even that coffin in the stylish living room of the Kinsella family in Kin, we love to covet the homes they live in but always turn off the telly happy that we’re not the ones who live there.

Why ‘bodies with vaginas’ can’t be ignored

As a woman, or a ‘body with a vagina’, I found something deeply uncomfortable about the terminology used in the Lancet last week.

“Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected,” the leading medical journal declared. Well, as a BWV fresh from reading Elinor Cleghorn’s searing Unwell Women, I can say that it is most certainly women’s health that has been marginalised and, if you start taking women out of that equation, it will continue to be that way.

Of course, not all people who menstruate or give birth are women and the language of inclusivity is important. But inclusivity has to go hand in hand with equality. You can’t raise up one marginalised group to the detriment of another; we all need to feel seen and accepted.

There’s just something very reductive about the phrase ‘bodies with vaginas’, particularly given that the use of anatomical descriptors only seems to go one way. I’m yet to hear the word ‘men’ replaced with ‘bodies with testes’ — and why is it that the evolution of the language of inclusivity has left the patriarchy untouched?

Surely that’s the most concerning thing of all? That as long as we’re focused on terminology then the myriad issues, health and otherwise, affecting bodies with vaginas, go on being ignored and unresolved.

We need to find the words that ensure all sectors of society feel accounted for, that no one is cast aside. Words matter, but let’s not forget that actions matter more.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Let’s talk about sex, Goop style

The release date for Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series Sex, Love & Goop has just been announced for October 21. Now maybe it’s just me, but I’m not sure running a website that notoriously urged women to steam their intimate areas, or insert sea sponges as tampon alternatives, renders you qualified for sex advice.

The brief trailer for the series is essentially Paltrow squealing the word ‘sex’ and giggling like a prepubescent teen, all of which suggests that the participants in the show won’t necessarily leave knowing where the clitoris is, but at least they can buy a candle that smells like one in Goop HQ.

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